Michigan State coach Tom Izzo enters his 22nd season leading the Spartans coming off a rare first-round loss in the NCAA Tournament. There are no returning double-figure scorers on this team but there is a four-player freshman class that includes McDonald’s All-Americans Joshua Langford and Miles Bridges.
Izzo spoke at the Big Ten Basketball Media Day Thursday in Washington, D.C., which will host the 2017 Big Ten conference tournament in March.
Here are some of the things Izzo said:
- “We’ve got something different for us this year. A lot of young, new guys and a lot of the young, new guys are going to play, which hasn’t always been the case at our place. Maybe one or two, but not three and four.”
- Senior forward Ben Carter will be out an extended period of time after undergoing surgery “in the next day or two.” The 6-f00t-9 graduate transfer from UNLV suffered a left knee injury in practice last week. Carter had surgery on the same knee last season. Redshirt sophomore Kenny Goins and freshman Nick Ward are expected to pick up more minutes in Carter’s absence.
- Izzo said it’s hard to assess the Big Ten race because even though there are plenty of players returning, each team has also lost some key people. “Wisconsin has lost the least, so I think they’re everybody’s pick to win it, and rightfully so.”
- On mixing in the talented freshmen into the mix: “I think we’ve developed a damn good culture. And the culture means that players know what they’re getting into when they come, and a junior-senior, player coached team is better than a coach-coached team or coaching those young kids.”
- “Do you have to make a few adjustments? Sure. Do you have to spend a lot more time? Sure. But do you really change anything that you’ve built in the 20 years of your culture? Hopefully not. What I’ve been impressed with our freshmen is that they’ve fit right into it.”
- On freshman Miles Bridges, a Flint native: “What I love is we’ve had a lot of success with 6-4 to 6-7 guys that are versatile, and I think he could be one of the more versatile guys we’ve had since Jason Richardson. He shoots it pretty good. He’s stronger than most freshmen. He’s a man-child in that respect. He’s a power jumper.
- More on Bridges: “He has been an incredible kid. Sometimes your top 10 or 15 players are full of themselves. He’s about as humble and hard-working and coachable as a kid as I’ve had. That’s exciting for me because when your best players are some of your hardest workers and some of your easiest to coach, that’s usually a recipe for success. I think Miles Bridges is going to be the next Flintstone that has great success at our place because of the way he’s handled everything.